Washington, D.C., Police Chief Charles Ramsey warns that criminals increasingly are following money to places in the city once considered safe. He includes the Mall, where two robbers lay in wait near the Washington Monument before surprising tourists Tuesday night. Business leaders worried about the impact of the recent crimes on tourism. Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) called for a White House summit on safety.
The attacks on the Mall happened beneath a stand of cherry trees, when the robbers pounced twice along the south slope of the Washington Monument. The holdups followed three highly publicized robberies in May in another area of the Mall where violence had been rare. No arrests have been made in the earlier cases, and police said yesterday that the same people might be responsible. D.C. Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton noted that the attacks on the Mall could have economic consequences for the city. “When this message of crime on the Mall gets amplified, it can kill our economy,” she said. In the past, tourists got the message that D.C. crime was confined to economically depressed neighborhoods and that hotels, museums, and restaurants were safe.